A large part of working with patients involves helping them to adopt healthy dietary choices. In doing so, I’m always asked these two questions: “What can I eat for breakfast?” and “What do you eat for breakfast?”. This is in fact a very important question because breakfast may actually be the most important meal of the day. The reason breakfast is so important is because it will set the tone for blood sugar regulation throughout the day. So choosing a healthy breakfast is the best way to get your day started on the “right foot”.
Before I discuss healthy breakfast choices, let’s first take a look at what’s NOT healthy. Typical breakfast foods that are not healthy include: toast, cereals, bagels, pancakes, muffins, croissants, waffles, french toast, scones, etc.. Obviously these are all starchy, processed grain-based foods. These will undoubtedly cause your blood sugar to become imbalanced, especially if not combined with protein. Starches and proteins do not combine well for digestive purposes; however added protein would at least help to mitigate the effects these foods have on blood sugar. If you are not familiar with how these foods impact sugar and their ultimate effects on your health (or disease), please refer to my article titled “Blood sugar regulation“.
Acceptable breakfast foods would include any of the following: eggs, bacon, sausage, fish (from a “clean” source), oatmeal, vegetables (except potatoes), raw seeds and nuts (or their butters), and low sugar fruits (esp. apples and berries). Another thing to keep in mind that you should add some amount of protein (or at least fat) if you decide to have a carbohydrate food as the bulk of the meal. This will help to prevent a sharp spike in blood sugar which is exactly what we want to avoid. Carbohydrate foods would include vegetables, fruits, and oatmeal from the foods mentioned above.
As you can see, the idea is to avoid heavily processed, starchy and sugary foods. And this goes for the whole day, not just breakfast. It just so happens that most of the typical breakfast foods are in fact starchy, processed grains often containing sugar.
I personally had a difficult time with figuring out what to eat for breakfast as well; because I don’t prefer to eat heavy protein foods first thing in the morning. So what I decided works best for me is a protein shake. Almost every day I’ll make a 24-32 ounce-sized protein shake and drink it throughout the morning until about 1 and a 1/2 – 2 hours before lunch. I use water as the base, protein powder/meal replacement mix (from whey), strawberries and blueberries, 1-2 teaspoons of 100% cacao powder, 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and stevia as a sweetener.
I love typical breakfast foods as much as anyone else, but I know they won’t make me feel good or function well. The protein shake tastes delicious, and is easy make and travel with. And it supplies all the nutrients you need to start your day on the right foot!
Lastly, remember to NEVER skip breakfast and have it within an hour of waking up.
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology